Japan is always at the top of my list for countries to visit despite having visited numerous times. Within Japan, though, cherry blossom viewing season or hanami tops my list of new things to do. We’ve always visited during autumn leaf viewing season or momijgari, which we enjoy immensely, and hanami could only be as enchanting. Hanami is serious business in Japan with the weather bureau announcing the blossom forecast each year.
Cherry leaves and blossoms are edible and both are used as ingredients in Japan after being pickled in salted water. The leaves are used for sakuramochi, while the blossoms are used to create a beverage with hot water (sakurayu) or in traditional confectionary (wagashi) and sweet red bean buns (anpan). Ahead of hanami season, companies also release sakura products, including alcohol, soft drinks, ice cream, potato chips and of course, chocolate. And here we have Nestle KitKat Sakura Matcha.
The KitKat consists of a cherry blossom cream sandwiched between fragrant wafers and covered in white chocolate flavoured with green tea from Uji in Kyoto.
The minibar smells much like matcha KitKat with no hint of sakura. On tasting, the matcha flavoured white chocolate melts to reveal a fragrant green tea flavour with a balanced sweetness and bitterness in the head, before pleasantly mellow notes of sakura blossoms emerge in the body. The floral notes retain their characteristic saline and sour flavour but their strength is well-restrained and enjoyable compared to their pronounced flavour in sakurayu. The combined sakura and matcha flavours in the finish leave a savoury sweet aftertaste that suggests a sakura flavoured umami-rich gyokuro.
Sakura Matcha is a long-standing flavour with Nestle Japan regularly updating its packaging. Here’s the box from 2011 containing 2 full-size, rather than mini-size, bars.
These boxes of Nestle KitKat Sakura Matcha contained 3 mini bars (top) and 2 full-size bars (bottom). They were produced in Japan and purchased in Osaka, Japan in 2011 and 2015.